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014-12 Reuse of Previously Issued License Plates on Antique or Classic Vehicles

Registration and Title Bulletin - #014-12

Date: May 18, 2012


All County Tax Assessor-Collectors


Reuse of Previously Issued License Plates on Antique or Classic Vehicles


To update procedures for approving old, previously-issued license plates for reuse on Antique and Classic vehicles.


Customers applying for Antique or Classic vehicle registration have the option of reusing old Texas license plates on vehicles in lieu of department-issued Antique or Classic license plates. Your office must examine the plates to determine if they meet the minimum requirements in state law (Transportation Code, Sec. 504.502).

The most important tool to help determine which old plates qualify is the book, "The History of Texas License Plates, 80th Anniversary Edition," which is posted on the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) Web site at this link: /publications/titles_registration.htm. Each old plate submitted for approval requires a complete examination of the minimum requirements listed below, and a detailed review of the relevant information in the license plate book.

Review of "The History of Texas License Plates"

Chapter 11 of "The History of Texas License Plates" provides a year-by-year detailed description of Texas license plates. Design, size, color, date of manufacture and plate patterns are presented for each year. Photographs of old plates are shown as examples. Pay close attention to: 1) proper plate type (passenger, truck, trailer, etc.); 2) proper year (may need to examine several years prior and subsequent); and 3) proper letters, patterns and separators.

Minimum Requirements

The following types of old license plates are not eligible for reuse and should not be approved:

  • license plates that restrict the use of a vehicle, such as Farm Truck or Dealer plates; and
  • qualifying license plates that do not restrict the use of a vehicle but require the applicant to meet one or more eligibility requirements, such as State Official and military license plates.
  • Old plates must be the same year as the year model of vehicle, with the correct color scheme, and be in good, readable condition. The plates must be free of rust. If not rust-free, the customer is required to remove the rust and repaint the plates according to the required color combination.
  • Classic and Antique plates may be registered to passenger, truck or motorcycle type vehicles. The vehicle classification of the Texas license plates must be the same as that of the vehicle being registered. If the classification is indistinguishable, the license plates may be used; however, the approval of such plates shall be at the discretion of each office.
  • If the license plates were originally issued in sets, a single license plate may not be approved for use as Antique or Classic registration. For example, single license plates, not sets, were issued during the years 1945-46.
  • The department did not issue license plates for registration years 1918-22, and 1943-44; registration discs or metal tabs were issued in those years. Approval for use of these license plates on the same model year vehicle is valid only if the respective year validation disc is approved and displayed on the license plates. For example, a 1919 vehicle would be required to display a 1917 license plate with a 1919 validation disc.
  • Prior to approval, the alpha numeric pattern of the personalized or general issue plate must be checked through RTS to ensure the requested pattern is not currently in use on another Texas vehicle. If the plate pattern is currently in use, the plates cannot be approved.
  • If approved, submit to the Special Plates Branch copies of the following items: license plates; written confirmation that plates have been approved; and Form VTR-54, Application for Antique License Plates, or Form VTR-850, Application for Classic License Plates.
  • NOTE: Do not approve use of replica plates, which are often made of aluminum and are a shiny gold or bronze on the reverse side.


When evaluating old license plates, please use the minimum requirements detailed in this RTB, and information in Chapter 11 of "The History of Texas License Plates."


If you have any questions, please contact your local TxDMV Regional Service Center.

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